Trump to present coronavirus therapy 'breakthrough' after hitting FDA

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – President Donald Trump’s chief of staff blamed federal bureaucrats for slowing the US response to the virus pandemic, ahead of an announcement on Sunday (Aug 23) on a “therapeutic breakthrough” promised by the White House.

After Mr Trump claimed on Saturday that Food and Drug Administration employees are causing delays to sabotage his re-election, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News Sunday that the President’s Twitter comment reflected “frustration” with FDA bureaucrats.

“They want to do things the way they’ve always done it,” Mr Meadows said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

“This president is about cutting red tape. That’s what the tweet was all about.”

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said late on Saturday that Mr Trump will hold a news conference at 6pm EDT on Sunday on a “major therapeutic breakthrough” against Covid-19.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar will also attend, she said.

While Mr Meadows didn’t provide details on the announcement, he suggested part of the reason is that Mr Trump wants to make federal health agencies “feel the heat” to deliver results.

“We really need to make sure that we have good science and the proper protocols, but we also can’t wait around and assume that this virus is going to go away,” Mr Meadows said.

“This president wants real results and that’s why he took to Twitter.”

Asked whether he believes FDA employees are delaying a vaccine for political purposes ahead of the general election, Mr Meadows said: “I believe there are a number of people that do not see the same sense of urgency that he sees.”

There’s no public evidence that FDA scientists and staff members are delaying treatments or vaccines, and Mr Trump didn’t present any.

But with his political future hinging on his response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his promise to present a vaccine by Election Day on Nov 3, the FDA is now facing the same sort of political pressure and rhetoric from the White House as other parts of government.

Mr Trump uses the term “deep state” to describe employees of government agencies that he believes are manipulating policy to work against his interests.

His tweet on Saturday tagged Mr Hahn, who’s a Trump appointee.

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